Man steals life savings of 80-year-old who gave him his ATM card; jailed 42 weeks

SINGAPORE - Taking advantage of an elderly man's poor eyesight, Gay Chin Yin "returned" the 80-year-old a fake bank card after helping him to withdraw money from an ATM. Using the real one, he withdrew more than $20,000 over the next two months for himself - leaving only $2.69 of his victim's life savings in the account.

On Friday, Gay, 50, was sentenced to 42 weeks in jail for stealing $24,520 from Mr Sai Bee Cheng. He pleaded guilty to seven charges. Another 12 were taken into consideration.

A community court heard that Gay met Mr Sai while volunteering at the Sunlove Senior Activity Centre near the retiree's home in Marsiling. Then a commercial signboard artist, Gay would also help to clean the man's flat on an ad-hoc basis.

Last Aug 26, Mr Sai, whose age and heart condition prevents him from walking long distances, asked Gay to help him withdraw $500. He passed Gay his bank card and a slip of paper with his PIN number written on it. Gay did as asked, but also withdrew $300 for himself from the joint account his victim shared with his wife. He then returned the fake card to Mr Sai, who did not suspect anything was amiss.

Gay has a history of schizophrenia and is divorced. His former wife looks after their two children. Counsel for the former coffeeshop assistant and food court cleaner said he intends to continue volunteering with the activity centre after finishing his jail term.

He could have been jailed up to three years and fined for each of the offences for theft.

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